Christine: Back on Her Feet

When she first met Mercy Medical Center’s Dr. Justin Park, Christine had no idea he would be the person who would one day put her back on her feet for good.

Their first meeting was innocent enough. While visiting her in-laws,  Christine had slipped and fallen on a patch of ice. To be safe, she made an appointment to see Dr. Park, an orthopedic surgeon who, at the time, happened to have an office near her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  While the slip on the ice had not caused serious damage, it was the start of something special – a connection to a doctor who would lift her up when she would fall again.

“I liked Dr. Park very much that first time I met him,” Christine said. “He was kind and understanding.  He was definitely a doctor you remember.”

A Doctor "Worth the Drive"

Christine remembered two years later when she suddenly began having terrible back and leg pain. A teacher, Christine is a Media Specialist for kindergarten through fifth grade students. Her job requires her to spend much of her day on her feet. 

“I began having terrible pain from my lower back into my left leg and foot, and the pain led to numbness and weakness,” she said.  “And it kept getting worse.”  In time, she said, the pain was so intense it felt like her leg was on fire and she couldn’t walk normally. “It took forever to walk somewhere,” she said. “Everything seemed so far away.”

After seeing her family doctor and receiving X-rays, Christine remembered the kind and thorough surgeon she’d met two years before. Though Dr. Park by then did not have an office near her, Christine went back to see him, this time at this new practice with The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy in Baltimore. “He’s worth the drive,” she said.

After an MRI, Dr. Park diagnosed lumbar decompression due to disc herniation from chronic degeneration. It would require surgery. 

“Just to show you the kind of doctor he is, Dr. Park called me at 10 o’clock at night after I’d had the MRI to give me the results,” Christine noted. “I didn’t answer the phone because I thought it was a telemarketer. It never occurred to me that my surgeon would care enough to call me at home at night with test results. But he did.”

An Immediate Difference

Using a minimally invasive surgical technique for faster recovery, Dr. Park performed lumbar decompression surgery on Christine. An outpatient procedure, the surgery requires a small portion of the bone over the nerve root to be removed  to relieve impingement and provide more room for the nerve to heal. The surgery only required a small incision, which Christine says is barely noticeable. 

“I went in to Mercy at nine in the morning and left at three that afternoon,” she said. “And I noticed a difference immediately. The pain was almost all gone.”

The day after the surgery, she said, Dr. Park called her again at home to check in on her. By then, she understood the care and commitment of her surgeon. This time she answered the phone.

Christine spent one day recovering and was walking the next. In a few weeks she was completely back on her feet, taking pain-free walks and even taking spinning classes.

“Everything about the experience with Dr. Park and Mercy was just amazing,” she said. “Dr. Park knew I was a teacher and he worked with me to make sure we could schedule the surgery before school started in the Fall. It’s that kind of personal touch that makes him and Mercy special.”

“Honestly, the hospital and the staff were amazing,” she added. “Everyone I came in contact with -- from Dr. Park to the anesthesiologist to the admitting and discharge nurses -- was friendly, professional and caring. 

“When I went back to school in the Fall my co-workers couldn’t believe it because I was all the way back on my feet,” Christine concluded. “They’d seen me in the Spring and I could hardly walk and was in a lot of pain. Someone at school said to me, ‘I need the name of your doctor.’  I’m happy to share it. The experience was that positive.”

Christine's Treatment Team